The Reaction Sandbox


Researchers often have a suite of reactions tailored to a unique problem scenario, but these reaction networks only exist in their respective research codes. The “reaction sandbox” provides these researchers with a venue for implementing user-defined reactions within PFLOTRAN. Reaction networks developed within the reaction sandbox can leverage existing biogeochemical capability within PFLOTRAN (e.g. equilibrium aqueous complexation, mineral precipitation–dissolution, etc.) or function independently. Please note that although the reaction sandbox facilitates the integration of user-defined reactions, the process still requires a basic understanding of PFLOTRAN and its approach to solving reaction through the Newton-Raphson method. For instance, one must understand the purpose and function of the rt_auxvar and global_auxvar objects.


The core framework of reaction sandbox leverages Fortran 2003 object–oriented extendable derived types and methods and consists of two modules:

  • Reaction_Sandbox_module (reaction_sandbox.F90)
  • Reaction_Sandbox_Base_class (reaction_sandbox_base.F90).

To implement a new reaction within the reaction sandbox, one creates a new class by extending the Reaction_Sandbox_Base_class and adds the new class to the Reaction_Sandbox_module. The following steps illustrate this process through the creation of the class Reaction_Sandbox_Example_class that implements a first order decay reaction.

  1. Copy reaction_sandbox_template.F90 to a new filename (e.g. reaction_sandbox_example.F90).

  2. Replace all references to Template/template with the new reaction name.

    • Template \(\rightarrow\) Example
    • template \(\rightarrow\) example
  3. Add necessary variables to the module and/or the extended derived type.

    character(len=MAXWORDLENGTH) :: species_name
    PetscInt :: species_id
    PetscReal :: rate_constant
  4. Add the necessary functionality within the following subroutines:

    1. ExampleCreate: Allocate the reaction object, initializing all variables to zero and nullifying arrays. Be sure to nullify ExampleCreate%next which comes from the base class. E.g.,

      ExampleCreate%species_name = ''
      ExampleCreate%species_id = 0
      ExampleCreate%rate_constant = 0.d0
    2. ExampleRead: Read parameters in from the input file block EXAMPLE. E.g.,

        call InputReadWord(input,option,this%species_name, &
        call InputErrorMsg(input,option,'species_name', &
    3. ExampleSetup: Construct the reaction network (e.g. array allocation, establishing linkages, etc.). E.g.,

      this%species_id = &
        GetPrimarySpeciesIDFromName(this%species_name, &
    4. ExampleReact: Calculate contribution of reaction to the residual (units = moles/sec) and Jacobian (units = kg water/sec). E.g.,

      Residual(this%species_id) = &
        Residual(this%species_id) - &
        this%rate_constant*porosity* &
        global_auxvar%sat(iphase)*volume*1.d3* &
      Jacobian(this%species_id,this%species_id) = &
      Jacobian(this%species_id,this%species_id) + &
        this%rate_constant*porosity* &
        rt_auxvar%aqueous%dtotal(this%species_id, &
    5. ExampleDestroy: Deallocate any dynamic memory within the class (without deallocating the object itself).

  5. Ensure that the methods within the extended derived type point to the proper procedures in the module

    procedure, public :: ReadInput => ExampleRead
    procedure, public :: Setup => ExampleSetup
    procedure, public :: Evaluate => ExampleReact
    procedure, public :: Destroy => ExampleDestroy
  6. Within reaction_sandbox.F90:

    1. Add Reaction_Sandbox_Example_class+ to the list of modules to be “used” at the top of the file.

    2. Add a case statement in RSandboxRead2 for the keyword defining the new reaction and create the reaction within. I.e.

        new_sandbox => ExampleCreate()